As Uncle Firmin headed back toward home on Monday night, I followed in his wake.
It was a gentle ride as the wheelmaster steadily and gently negotiated the curves and hills and glides and stops. A practiced feel of the big vehicle’s ways on the road was obvious.
Many had made this journey and many more would.
I thought at this hour of the night, in this direction, the big station wagon would probably be doing what it was designed for. There was no fold-down way-back seat. It took a long downhill stretch for my pickups lights to confirm: Someone’s going home. The shroud, visible briefly, covered Uncle Firmin on his last ride down Spear Street.
Showing respect I hoped, I followed with extra distance between us, aiming not to add glare to the rearview, leaving the funeral director to concentrate on the road ahead with its many possible hazards. Critters big and small cross in several places along Spear at all hours. Oncoming traffic crosses the centerline all the time, at least bicyclists probably wouldn’t be out this late. I thought, it must be rare for a hearse driver to be involved in an accident and rarer still for the fault to be his or hers. A smooth, gentle trip toward a families’ love is the mission, I’ve been told.
Was there anyone with the driver? Did they talk? What about? Are the topics always respectful too? If the funeral home people knew their cherished passenger, can they share a last joke or story without regret? I don’t think they play the radio.